Ask Nanny Louenna: How to Entertain your Children at Home?
Nanny Louenna is currently working as a Freelance Temporary Nanny, Childcare Consultant and Maternity Nurse. She has graduated from one of the most exquisite colleges for nannies, Norland College in Bath, with the highest award. Louenna is also in the process of launching a childcare app where she will share all her knowledge on topics such as weaning, potty training and looking after a newborn! You can follow her on Instagram here and download her new app here.
Our 'Ask Nanny Louenna' blog series brings on exclusive opportunity to get advice and tips from one of the most desired nannies out there.
We asked Nanny Louenna - how can we keep our children entertained at home? Here’s what she had to say:
Hello everybody, it’s lovely to be back writing for Pepa & Co. I hope you are all staying safe and coping in this strange time that we have all been plunged into.
I know that it’s hard for lots of you with children of different ages at home, and not being able to get on with normal day to day life. Try to stay positive, remember that this isn't forever, and take one day at a time. I have written some tips and ideas for you on how to entertain your children at home.
My top tips
1 Break the day into chunks so that the day doesn’t drag and your house isn’t turned into a chaotic and messy state! Slow everything down, there’s no reason to rush anymore. Spend time that you wouldn’t normally have doing board games or puzzles together.
2 Keep a good bedtime routine, even with no school! If children have too many late nights, they end up becoming tired and short tempered - which no one wants when you’re all stuck in the house.
3 Make a daily routine checklist that is personal to your family. Children love taking responsibility and it will encourage them to stay busy and occupied and help you around the house.
4 Encourage some quiet time in the afternoon for older children, while babies and toddlers nap. They can rest in their rooms, play with a game by themselves, read or listen to music. This way everyone gets a break from each other and allows time to reset the house.
5 If your child resists reading practice, try making them a little reading den, or taking some pillows outside to read in the garden. If you have a pet, children love reading to their dog, cat or rabbit. Or why not ask them to read to a relative on FaceTime, or even to a favourite doll or teddy bear?
6 Sort your toys into storage boxes so that everything has a place, the children will play with their things much more if it isn't all jumbled together. Get one box out to play with, and then ask your children to help you tidy it away before getting something else out.
I have been asked several times how to promote children playing on their own, without an adult. I find setting children up with an activity and playing with them for a few minutes, so you give them ideas for their game or their play kitchen or baby station, for example. Explain that you have some jobs to go and do and you’ll be back in a minute to check on them, you will find they often go into their own little imaginary world and enjoy some time on their own. Try putting some quiet music or an audiobook on in the background to give them a feeling they aren’t on their own.
Some of my favourite really simple games for children to play are:
•A treasure hunt in the garden or in the house! You can hide anything... little stars cut out and coloured by the children, pebbles, toy animals etc.
•A bucket of water and some plastic cups will entertain toddlers for a long time. Use warm water and waterproofs on a cold day.
•Create a family diary. We’re currently in the middle of a piece of history, never before in our lifetime have we been asked to isolate, and it’s something that we will look back on in the future and talk about to future generations. If you have a notepad in the house, open a new page each day and get quotes form everyone in the house, some statistics, newspaper clippings, print out photos of what you have been doing as a family. Any information which documents this time in history will be brilliant to read together in the future, and it encourages children to practice their writing a little each day.
•Wash the car - be ready for some streaks but who cares!
•A bucket of water and a paint brush - tell the children they can paint the fence, the patio, even the bricks on the house. Once they’ve finished one part, the water will of dried so they can go off repainting!
•Make a collection list. When they have collected everything they could have, give them half an hour of TV time or a snack as a reward.
•Make a time capsule. Write a letter each to the finder of the capsule, put in a photo of how you look now, add a newspaper, some recipes or bills to show the prices of things like a pint of milk, and an ‘All About Me booklet’ printout from Nanny Louenna. Put your treasures into a tin or glass jar and seal it tightly with tape. You can bury it in the garden, or just hide it in your house to unlock years later!
•Collect some big stones from the garden, wash them then paint them - acrylic paint is the best.
•Put some flowers or an object in the middle of the table and ask them to paint what they see.
•There are some amazing online children’s workouts - I admire Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) for doing his daily P.E classes at 9am, and I love Cosmic Kids Yoga for younger children, they love the stories that coincide with the exercise.
•Ice excavation. Freeze some toy animals or coins in a bowl of water overnight, and get the children to use salt and warm water to melt or chip away at the ice until they release all the treasure and animals. Talk about how quickly the ice melts with different water temperatures and encourage the children to touch the crystallizing ice as the salt works its magic.
•Make a den. Use the backs of a couple of kitchen chairs near to a sofa and drape over blankets or sheets to make a cosy den.
•Have a picnic in the garden. Teddy bears are always welcome!
•Write a letter or postcard and send it to friends and loved ones. Incorporate your daily walk with a trip to the postbox.
Don’t forget the kitchen
Spending time in the kitchen with your little one’s cooking will help them explore new tastes and foods – including fruit and vegetables! This experience can help your child form positive connections with healthy foods whilst teaching them valuable life skills. It’s also the perfect time to educate them on nutrition and the food groups, as well as appreciating the importance of safety and cleanliness. A great way to keep them entertained whilst keeping thing educational.
Here’s some of my favourite things to do in the kitchen:
•Get your children to cook dinner for the family. One child could do a little appetiser, one the mains and one the pudding. Plan their recipes and make name places for everyone. It’s so much fun and really rewarding for the children. They also appreciate how much time and effort goes into making a home cooked meal. Make it a Sunday evening ritual.
•Do some baking! Baking is a fantastic learning experience for children, all the measuring and mixing and talking to each other promotes maths, language, and fine motor skills in one big sensory play.
•Make homemade fruit ice lollies! Chop fruit into little pieces and add it to some diluted juice and pop in lolly moulds. You can also use leftover smoothie mix or even just coconut water if you prefer.
•Create salt dough creations. 500g plain flour, 250g salt, 250ml water. Mix the three ingredients into a dough then put some flour on a surface to stop it sticking and mould the dough into shapes. Put them on a baking tray and bake them on a really low heat for three hours. Then they’re ready to paint!
•Homemade scented play dough. 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water and 3tbs olive oil. Add a tablespoon of food colouring and a scent like lemon juice, orange rind or lavender oil. Mix and knead together until it is all combined and can be played with as a dough.
Here are some simple activities that you can do at home with your baby to keep them occupied and enhance their development.
•Make a treasure basket. Fill a little basket with objects from around the house, things like a sponge, a lemon, wooden spoon, sieve, piece of ribbon etc. It’s becomes a wonderful sensory play and they feel adventurous playing with things they usually wouldn’t!
•Cornflour Play or Ooblek. Just add water to cornflour and see how the consistency changes with the heat of your hands. This is a great messy play for the whole family, including babies as it’s non toxic if it goes into their mouths. You can add food colouring and glitter. spoons, forks, toy animals and cars - all add to the experience.
•A mirror can provide lots of entertainment for babies, make sure it is plastic and shatterproof before letting your baby play with one or hold them in front of a mirror so they can focus and copy their reflection.
•Make sensory bottles. Babies love to shake, rattle and yes, even roll(!) these plastic bottles. Make them up using water bottles and fill them with pom-poms, food colouring, washing up liquid so it foams up when shaken, lentils or rice for a good shaking noise or glitter that twinkles.
•Yoghurt Paint. Mix a tiny amount of food colouring to plain or greek yoghurt and let your baby have their first painting experience. It’s the perfect first paint as its completely safe if they put their hands in their mouths.
Stay home and stay safe
I hope these tips and activities are helpful, continue to enjoy your time at home with your families, if you have any queries you can contact me via my Instagram page. I look forward to seeing pictures of your little ones enjoying these activities.
Love Louenna x
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